A Riyadh Mahrez stunning free kick in the last minute of regulation time condemned Nigeria to her second loss of the Africa Cup of Nations and confirmed Algeria’s place in Friday’s final match.
Gernot Rohr, the Nigeria coach, has admitted that his players took their foot of the throttle as they awaited extra time, a move that backfired and cost them the game.
The Super Eagles were fresh from a straightforward quarterfinal win over South Africa while Algeria needed penalties after 120 grueling minutes to see off Ivory Coast.
Rohr believe the prospect of extra time played on his team’s mind.
“It was a big fight until the last minute, it was a wonderful match, I think my players wanted it to go to extra time thinking Algeria were more tired,” Rohr was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Nigeria let in an own goal just before half time and got help from VAR to win and score a penalty for the equalizer in the second half. But it was Manchester City’s Mahrez’s goal that drew special praise fro the German coach.
“We scored an own goal, unlucky, but we have come back every time in this tournament and this time we came back on a penalty. But a wonderful free kick from a football genius made the difference.”
Nigeria will now face Tunisia in the third place match slated for Wednesday evening.